‘We have to keep this hospital open,’ said workers and youth taking part in a fifty-strong picket of Chase Farm Hospital, yesterday, organised by the North East London Council of Action.
A lively contingent of Young Socialists members took part handing out leaflets calling for an occupation to stop the planned closure of the Enfield, north London, hospital’s Accident & Emergency, Maternity and Paediatrics departments.
Cars hooted their horns in support and many hospital workers, patients and visitors signed up to join the council of action, saying they supported an occupation to save their hospital.
Council of Action Secretary Bill Rogers told News Line: ‘We have had nineteen pickets so far and have pushed back the closure plans.
‘The issue has been referred back the the secretary of state.
‘But this government is the architect of the privatisation drive so we have to be prepared to occupy and stop them.
‘We have to defend the NHS.’
Matthew ‘Zippo’ Brown, from Hackney Young Socialists, said: ‘The government is useless. It shouldn’t close anything down.
‘We have to keep hospitals open, they have to be public not private.
‘The government are privatising the NHS, they are only doing it for the money, that’s all wrong. We should stop them from doing it.’
Gary Porter, a patient, said: ‘It’s out of order what they are planning. Closing a big hospital like this would be a disaster.
‘And with the Accident and Emergency, if you had to go to Barnet it’s too far, it would put people at risk.
‘You pay your taxes to get a local hospital.
‘We have to keep all the hospitals open. Closing hospitals puts more pressure on the ambulance service as well.
‘The government are out to privatise everything we have. We don’t want that, we’ll end up like America, paying to go to hospital.’
Margaret Da Silva, a midwife, said: ‘I’m opposed to these closures.
‘It’s disgraceful for the people of Enfield not to have a hospital.’
She added: ‘They want to sell off Chase Farm for the land and money.
‘The population of Enfield is increasing and we need a hospital more than ever.
‘I would support a sit-in to stop the closures.
‘The trade unions should support a sit-in with strike action if necessary.’
Beatrice Bryan, a classroom assistant and out-patient at Chase Farm, said: ‘I’m not happy at the plans to close the A&E and Maternity.
‘We don’t want private companies in the NHS.
‘I support taking action to stop the closure. I’d support a sit-in.
‘The unions should be doing something.’
Cathy Carrington said: ‘I am opposed to closing the Accident and Emergency and Maternity and Paediatrics.
‘All the local people support the campaign to keep them open.
‘I will support action to stop the closure.’
Brian Filby said: ‘We have to keep this hospital open, it’s essential, especially the A&E.
‘My wife is an out-patient. She has to go for checks.
‘I’d support a sit-in to keep the hospital open. I’m sure everyone in Enfield would say the same thing.’
Anita Smith, a member of the UNITE trade union, said: ‘It’s disgusting what they are planning. I thoroughly disagree with it.
‘We have to fight it all the way, including doing a sit-in.
‘We need the unions to take action, it’s the only way we’ll win.’
Lorry driver Noel Shrimpton, who was visiting the hospital, said: ‘It is wrong what they are proposing.
‘People can’t afford to go private. We need the NHS.
‘This hospital has been here for years and we need it in Enfield.
‘This hospital has things that others haven’t got.
‘We definitely have to take action to stop the closure.
‘The government doesn’t listen to us.
‘I’d support a sit-in and the unions should take action.
‘We all have to defend the NHS.’
John Holahan said: ‘I’ve lived here a few years and this hospital is needed.
‘My wife comes here once a month for cancer treatment.
‘It’s difficult getting to Barnet.
‘This place should never be touched.
‘We have to stop them closing any part down.
‘I’m for a sit-in to keep the hospital open.’
Deniz Hassan, an out-patient, said: ‘There aren’t a lot of rich people in this country to pay for private hospitals.
‘Everyone needs a local NHS hospital.
‘There’s got to be a fight to stop the closures at any hospital, not just this one.
‘I support an occupation. The unions have to be made to take action.’